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Surging South Fayette boys soccer squad playing for lofty goals

Randy Jarosz | for the Bridgeville Area News - South Fayette's Jake Thomas heads a ball during the Lions 3-0 win over Keystone Oaks on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, at South Fayette Stadium.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Randy Jarosz | for the Bridgeville Area News</em></div>South Fayette's Jake Thomas heads a ball during the Lions 3-0 win over Keystone Oaks on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, at South Fayette Stadium.
Randy Jarosz | for the Bridgeville Area News - Junior midfielder Jake Thomas collects a pass during South Fayette's 3-0 win over Keystone Oaks on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, at South Fayette Stadium.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Randy Jarosz | for the Bridgeville Area News</em></div>Junior midfielder Jake Thomas collects a pass during South Fayette's 3-0 win over Keystone Oaks on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, at South Fayette Stadium.
Randy Jarosz | for the Bridgeville Area News - South Fayette junior defender George Slater collects a loose ball during the Lions 3-0 win over Keystone Oaks on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, at South Fayette Stadium.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Randy Jarosz | for the Bridgeville Area News</em></div>South Fayette junior defender George Slater collects a loose ball during the Lions 3-0 win over Keystone Oaks on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, at South Fayette Stadium.

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After a resurgence in 2012, the South Fayette boys soccer team is aiming for the stars this season.

“We set a couple of bench mark goals,” coach Rob Eldridge said. “We wanted to win our (season-opening) tournament, which we were able to do. The next step is to win the section and WPIAL and make an appearance in Hershey. Those are goals you have to strive for. If you don't, you are selling yourself short.”

South Fayette won 14 games last season – a turn around from three wins in 2011 – and made a run to the WPIAL Class AA consolation game where it fell to Belle Vernon, 1-0. The Lions return seven players from that squad.

“That is a pretty substantial number no matter if it is soccer or football or whatever sport,” Eldridge said. “Whenever you return seven experienced guys, it is much easier to move forward with the program.”

Junior Brian Coyne is leading the offensive attack – he scored four goals in the Lions' first three games – that also features senior midfielders Danny Pruss and Travis Revay and sophomore forward Jordan Smith.

The defense will be boosted by the return of seniors Dan Pruss and Evan Yee and juniors Nick McKee and George Slater.

The team is in a unique situation as it has split time between two goalkeepers in senior Alex Gedrys and junior Andrew Pine. While Gedrys was an All-WPIAL selection in 2012 and recorded double-digit shutouts, being able to build depth in front of the net has led to the split time.

“If something physical happens, you want a contingency plan in place,” Eldridge said. “I would hate to be in a position where (Gedrys) plays all the games and suffers an injury. We are kind of investing in our security.”

The plan has worked as the Lions opened the season 4-0, including Section 5-AA wins over Keystone Oaks and Montour. South Fayette's defense has been strong as the team has outscored opponents 11-0.

The Lions know things will get tougher against the top squads of Section 5-AA – the section Eldridge called the best in Class AA.

The section features defending WPIAL Class AA champion Quaker Valley, not to mention a West Allegheny team that has outscored its first five opponents 20-2 and an upstart Montour squad. Despite the challenge, seeing these team on a weekly basis and going into hostile environments should prepare a team for the postseason.

“If you can make it through,” Eldridge said.

The Lions return to the field Saturday at they travel to Waynesburg Central for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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